Pathology dictionary

Tangentially sectioned

What does tangentially sectioned mean?

Tangentially sectioned is a term pathologists use to describe a tissue sample that is difficult to examine under the microscope because it has been cut on an angle. This may prevent your pathologist from providing a complete diagnosis based on the tissue sample available.

Before a tissue sample can be examined under the microscope by a pathologist, the tissue first needs to be cut into very thin sections and placed on glass slides. This process is performed by technicians using a machine called a microtome.

In a tangential section, the microtome cuts through the tissue at an angle so that different levels of the tissue are combined into the same section.

A tangential section can be caused by the way the tissue sample was removed from the body or by the way the sample was placed onto the microtome.

A tangentially sectioned tissue sample can be difficult to examine under the microscope. If your pathologist is unable to reach a diagnosis because the tissue has been tangentially sectioned, they may ask your doctor to send a new tissue sample for examination.

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